PEACE IN THE PENINSULA? It’s been 65 years since the fighting ended in the Korean War and north and south came together last night to announce a prospective deal to officially end the war by year’s end. North Korea's Kim Jong Un and South Korea's Moon Jae-in also announced a goal of accomplishing a nuclear-free Korean peninsula through "complete denuclearization." We caution that the road ahead is filled with landmines, but President Trump will have an opportunity to advance this historic agreement when he meets Kim in May or June and mitigate a geopolitical quandary that has vexed many heads of state and foreign policy pros for over six decades.
BACK TO APPROPRIATIONS: Now that Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) has taken over the reins of the Appropriations Committee, he intends to work in tandem with ranking member Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT) in an effort to resume to what we refer to here in Washington as 'regular order' - meaning getting back to making the process work as intended - as opposed to the eleventh-hour, crisis-filled, governing by continuing resolution rut that has become the norm for years. Speaker Paul Ryan will be meeting with the Republican conference today to vet like-minded appropriations priorities and find some semblance of normalcy to the way the House works - all with an eye on leaving as little as possible to battle over weeks before they adjourn for the midterms. But, but, but - they first have to get over any bad blood spilled as a result of the upcoming rescissions package and resolve major differences with the conservative House Study Committee who released their vision for the 2019 budget yesterday. And let's just say it's far more draconian than anything we’ve seen in recent years and even trumps Trump's lean budget goals.
FIDUCIARY UNDER FIRE: The Democratic attorneys general from California, New York and Oregon requested that the full 5th Circuit Court of Appeals hold a rehearing of a challenge to the Labor Department's fiduciary rule, which was finalized under former President Barack Obama. A three-judge panel on the 5th Circuit struck down the rule last month, and the state officials said they are attempting to intervene in the case because the Labor Department has not shown an interest in defending the rule. The AG's will likely be joined in the challenge by the powerful AARP pitting them against other special interest powerhouses in the financial services and business sectors who won the first round in the 5th Circuit.
CHAOTIC DAY FOR TRUMP'S CABINET: Former Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo was confirmed by the Senate and sworn in as the country's 70th secretary of state yesterday. The 57-to-42 vote came after seven members of the Senate Democratic caucus joined a united Republican conference to support Pompeo's nomination. In the same day, Trump’s candidate to head the Department of Veteran’s Affair dropped his bid in the wake of allegations of misconduct. Also in the same day, Trump’s EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt defended his record and controversial actions since taking the helm at the agency but may have done little to improve his standing with White House officials and with Trump himself.
GIVE VOTERS A CHOICE: We've said before that two states - Pennsylvania and California - will play an outsized role in the fall midterm elections with the advantage going to the Democrats. But California Republicans aren't about to give up so easily and are backing a statewide ballot initiative this November with the aim of rolling back the state's gas tax increase pushed by the Democrats. National and state Republicans hope they can channel anger over the increase into bodies at the ballot box headed into a challenging climate and salvage a few seats in the process.
PROTECTING MUELLER: The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 14-7 to approve a bill that would protect special counsel Robert Mueller from being fired without cause, even though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said the measure will not get a vote on the Senate floor. Trump said in an interview yesterday that he has tried to keep a hands-off approach to the Department of Justice during Mueller's investigation, but that he may change his mind.
A NEW GENERATION TAKES AIM AT GUN CONTROL: Hedgeye's chief demographer Neil Howe takes a look at the changing dynamics in the gun control debate. Howe's full piece here.
IRAN OIL SANCTIONS STILL EXPECTED DESPITE MACRON PUSH FOR "NEW DEAL": Read Joe McMonigle's unchanged view on prospects for the Iran deal here.
COURT REVIEWS FCC ORDER CRITICAL TO SINCLAIR/TRIBUNE DEAL (SBGI, TRCO): Paul Glenchur weighs in on the federal appeals court review of FCC decision that facilitates the Sinclair/Tribune deal. His note here.
BRINGING THE HAMMER DOWN | CMS PROPOSES MORE REPORTING OF DIR FEES IN PART D | CVS, DPLO, HUM, UNH: In what can only be a set up for point of sale rebates for Part D beneficiaries, CMS proposes new guidance requiring more detailed reporting. Read the analysis by Emily Evans here.
XI FOR LIFE: General Dan Christman writes on two ground-shifting events that have taken place over the last months that have the potential to fundamentally alter U.S. relations with the Sinic and Muslim worlds. You can read his note here.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ON TRACK TO OUTSPEND REAGAN BUILDUP: General Emo Garder writes that DoD's topline for FY2019 is a foregone conclusion but breathtaking in its aspiration. Read his insight here.